Seniors who live alone may be especially prone to the ravages of bad weather. When the power goes out and the roads are dangerous, knowing that your senior loved one has an accessible, well-stocked emergency preparedness kit can be a huge source of relief. Here are a few ways to make sure she has everything she needs to stay safe:
Have the Basics…
In many places, water, electricity, and emergency transportation are usually restored within days — so a two-week supply of necessities will get you through most periods of inclement weather. But depending on your loved one’s location and physical condition, that may not be enough.
If you’re a family caregiver, consider all possibilities and what might be needed. Here are a few suggestions, including some from the American Red Cross e-book Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors.
- Medications. Some medications cannot be missed, so you’ll want to ask your loved one’s healthcare provider for an extended quantity and consider investing in an automatic pill dispenser. Work out emergency provisions with your medical supply vendor, and let your local fire department know if your loved one relies on life-saving equipment — you can do this in advance in some places. Label all medical equipment.
- Food. Store a variety of nonperishable foods that don’t require cooking, and check expiration dates to make sure all items are safe for consumption.
- Water. The Red Cross recommends keeping at least a two-week supply of water on hand for emergency purposes — it also advises using the measurement of one gallon of water per person per day. Be sure to keep plenty of purification tablets available as well.
- Light. Don’t use candles or any other flammable light sources — but do have matches or a lighter nearby. Rely on battery-operated lanterns and flashlights for lighting.
- News and updates. Consider purchasing a radio powered by a hand-crank battery so your senior can keep up with the news.
- Pet considerations. Set aside a two-week supply of pet food and medicines.
- Hygiene. Store a variety of personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste.
- Money. Be sure to keep cash and coins in a safe place.
- Warmth. Make sure you have winter gear ready — coats, hats, gloves, socks, long underwear, and boots. Sunscreen is useful during any season.
- Emergency health. A stocked first-aid kit is a necessity in any home. Be sure to check that it is up-to-date.
- Records. Any important documents should be kept in a waterproof container and be accessible in the case of an emergency.
…And a Plan
First, pack an abbreviated emergency preparedness kit for your car that includes a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, blankets, snack food, and flares. Then, make sure you have a plan in place that lists escape routes, important phone numbers, and what to do in certain situations. Keep a copy of the plan in a secure place that is easy to remember. In a family caregiving situation you can certainly try to get to your senior as soon as you can, but only when it is safe to do so. Take time to discuss what you would do in specific situations to help identify where changes and improvements are needed.